Srila Prabhupada explains the rasa dance of Lord Balarama
Lord Balarāma became very anxious to see His father and mother, Mahārāja Nanda and Yaśodā. Therefore, He started for Vṛndāvana on a chariot with great enthusiasm. The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana had been anxious to see Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma for a very long time. When Lord Balarāma returned to Vṛndāvana, all the cowherd boys and the gopīs had grown up; but still, on His arrival, they all embraced Him, and Balarāma embraced them in reciprocation. After this He came before Mahārāja Nanda and Yaśodā and offered His respectful obeisances unto them. In response, mother Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja offered their blessings unto Him. They addressed Him as Jagadīśvara, or the Lord of the universe who maintains everyone. The reason for this was that both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma maintain all living entities, and yet Nanda and Yaśodā were put into such difficulties on account of Their absence. Feeling like this, they embraced Balarāma and, seating Him on their laps, began their perpetual crying, wetting Balarāma with their tears. Lord Balarāma then offered His respectful obeisances to the elderly cowherd men and accepted the obeisances of the younger cowherd men. Thus, according to their different ages and relationships, Lord Balarāma exchanged feelings of friendship with them. He shook hands with those who were His equals in age and friendship, and with loud laughing embraced each one of them.
After being received by the cowherd men and boys, the gopīs, and King Nanda and Yaśodā, Lord Balarāma sat down, feeling satisfied, and they all surrounded Him. First Lord Balarāma inquired from them about their welfare, and then, not having seen Him for such a long time, they began to ask Him different questions. The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana had sacrificed everything for Kṛṣṇa, simply being captivated by the lotus eyes of the Lord. Because of their great desire to love Kṛṣṇa, they never desired anything like elevation to the heavenly planets or merging into the effulgence of Brahman to become one with the Absolute Truth. They were not even interested in enjoying a life of opulence, but were satisfied in living a simple life in the village as cowherd men. They were always absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa and did not desire any personal benefits, and they were all so much in love with Him that in His absence their voices faltered when they began to inquire from Balarāmajī.
First Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodāmayī inquired, “My dear Balarāma, are our friends like Vasudeva and others in the family doing well? Now You and Kṛṣṇa are grown-up married men with children. In the happiness of family life, do You sometimes remember Your poor father and mother, Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodādevī? It is very good news that the most sinful King Kaṁsa has been killed by You and that our friends like Vasudeva and the others who had been harassed by him, have now been relieved. It is also very good news that both You and Kṛṣṇa defeated Jarāsandha and Kālayavana, who now is dead, and that You are now living in a fortified residence in Dvārakā.”
When the gopīs arrived, Lord Balarāma glanced over them with loving eyes. Being overjoyed, the gopīs, who had so long been mortified on account of Kṛṣṇa’s and Balarāma’s absence, began to ask about the welfare of the two brothers. They specifically asked Balarāma whether Kṛṣṇa was enjoying His life surrounded by the enlightened women of Dvārakā Purī. “Does He sometimes remember His father Nanda and His mother Yaśodā and the other friends with whom He so intimately behaved while he was in Vṛndāvana? Does Kṛṣṇa have any plans to come here to see His mother Yaśodā and does He remember us gopīs who are now pitiably bereft of His company? Kṛṣṇa might have forgotten us in the midst of the cultured women of Dvārakā, but as far as we are concerned, we are still remembering Him by collecting flowers and sewing them into garlands. When He does not come, however, we simply pass our time by crying. If only He would come here and accept these garlands that we have made. Dear Lord Balarāma, descendant of Daśārha, You know that we would give up everything for Kṛṣṇa’s friendship. Even in great distress one cannot give up the connection of family members, but although it might be impossible for others, we gave up our fathers, mothers, sisters and relatives without caring at all about our renunciation. Then, all of a sudden, Kṛṣṇa renounced us and went away. He broke off our intimate relationship without any serious consideration and left for a foreign country. But He was so clever and cunning that He manufactured very nice words. He said, ‘My dear gopīs, please do not worry. The service you have rendered Me is impossible for Me to repay.’ After all, we are women, so how could we disbelieve Him? Now we can understand that His sweet words were simply for cheating us.”
Another gopī, protesting Kṛṣṇa’s absence from Vṛndāvana, began to say: “My dear Balarāmajī, we are of course village girls, so Kṛṣṇa could cheat us in that way, but what about the women of Dvārakā? Don’t think they are as foolish as we are! We village women might be misled by Kṛṣṇa, but the women in the city of Dvārakā are very clever and intelligent. Therefore I would be surprised if such city women could be misled by Kṛṣṇa and could believe His words.”
Then another gopī began to speak. “My dear friend,” she said, “Kṛṣṇa is very clever in using words. No one can compete with Him in that art. He can manufacture such colorful words and talk so sweetly that the heart of any woman would be misled. Besides that, He has perfected the art of smiling very attractively, and by seeing His smile women become mad after Him and would give themselves to Him without any hesitation.”
Another gopī, after hearing this, said, “My dear friends, what is the use in talking about Kṛṣṇa? If you are at all interested in passing away time by talking, let us talk on some subject other than Him. If cruel Kṛṣṇa can pass His time without us, why can’t we pass our time without Kṛṣṇa? Of course, Kṛṣṇa is passing His days very happily without us, but the difference is that we cannot pass our days very happily without Him.”
When the gopīs were talking in this way, their feelings for Kṛṣṇa became more and more intensified, and they were experiencing Kṛṣṇa’s smiling, Kṛṣṇa’s words of love, Kṛṣṇa’s attractive features, Kṛṣṇa’s characteristics and Kṛṣṇa’s embraces. By the force of their ecstatic feelings, it appeared to them that Kṛṣṇa was personally present and dancing before them. Because of their sweet remembrance of Kṛṣṇa, they could not check their tears, and they began to cry without consideration.
Lord Balarāma could, of course, understand the ecstatic feelings of the gopīs, and therefore He wanted to pacify them. He was expert in presenting an appeal, and thus, treating the gopīs very respectfully, He began to narrate the stories of Kṛṣṇa so tactfully that the gopīs became satisfied. In order to keep the gopīs in Vṛndāvana satisfied, Lord Balarāma stayed there continually for two months, namely the months of Caitra (March-April) and Vaiśākha (April-May). For those two months He kept Himself among the gopīs, and He passed every night with them in the forest of Vṛndāvana in order to satisfy their desire for conjugal love. Thus Balarāma also enjoyed the rāsa dance with the gopīs during those two months. Since the season was springtime, the breeze on the bank of the Yamunā was blowing very mildly, carrying the aroma of different flowers, especially of the flower known as kaumudī. Moonlight filled the sky and spread everywhere, and thus the banks of the Yamunā appeared to be very bright and pleasing, and Lord Balarāma enjoyed the company of the gopīs there.
The demigod known as Varuṇa sent his daughter Vāruṇī in the form of liquid honey oozing from the hollows of the trees. Because of this honey the whole forest became aromatic, and the sweet aroma of the liquid honey, Vāruṇī, captivated Balarāmajī. Balarāmajī and all the gopīs became very much attracted by the taste of Vāruṇī, and all of them drank it together. While drinking this natural beverage, Vāruṇī, all the gopīs chanted the glories of Lord Balarāma, and Lord Balarāma felt very happy, as if He had become intoxicated by drinking that Vāruṇī beverage. His eyes rolled in a pleasing attitude. He was decorated with long garlands of forest flowers, and the whole situation appeared to be a great function of happiness because of this transcendental bliss. Lord Balarāma smiled beautifully, and the drops of perspiration decorating His face appeared to be soothing morning dew.
While Balarāma was in that happy mood, He desired to enjoy the company of the gopīs in the water of the Yamunā. Therefore, He called Yamunā to come nearby. But Yamunā neglected the order of Balarāmajī, considering Him to be intoxicated. Lord Balarāma became very much displeased at Yamunā’s neglecting His order. He immediately wanted to scratch the land near the river with His plowshare. Lord Balarāma has two weapons, a plow and a club, and He takes service from them when they are required. This time He wanted to bring the Yamunā by force, and He took the help of His plow. He wanted to punish Yamunā because she did not come in obedience to His order. He addressed Yamunā: “You wretched river! You did not care for My order. Now I shall teach you a lesson! You did not come to Me voluntarily. Now with the help of My plow I shall force you to come. I shall divide you into hundreds of scattered streams!”
When Yamunā was threatened like this, she became greatly afraid of the power of Balarāma and immediately came in person, falling at His lotus feet and praying thus: “My dear Balarāma, You are the most powerful personality, and You are pleasing to everyone. Unfortunately, I forgot Your glorious, exalted position, but now I have come to my senses, and I remember that You hold all the planetary systems on Your head merely by Your partial expansion of Śeṣa. You are the sustainer of the whole universe. My dear Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are full of six opulences. Because I forgot Your omnipotence, I have mistakenly disobeyed Your order, and thus I have become a great offender. But, my dear Lord, please know that I am a surrendered soul unto You. You are very much affectionate to Your devotees. Therefore, please excuse my impudence and mistakes and, by Your causeless mercy, may You now release me.”
Upon displaying this submissive attitude, Yamunā was forgiven, and when she came nearby, Lord Balarāma wanted to enjoy the pleasure of swimming within her water along with the gopīs in the same way an elephant enjoys himself along with his many she-elephants. After a long time, when Lord Balarāma had enjoyed to His full satisfaction, He came out of the water, and immediately a goddess of fortune offered Him a nice blue garment and a valuable necklace made of gold. After taking bath in the Yamunā, Lord Balarāma, dressed in blue garments and decorated with golden ornaments, looked very attractive to everyone. Lord Balarāma’s complexion is white, and when He was properly dressed He looked exactly like the white elephant of King Indra in the heavenly planet. The Rver Yamunā still has many small branches due to being scratched by the plowshare of Lord Balarāma. And all these branches of the River Yamunā still glorify the omnipotency of Lord Balarāma.
Lord Balarāma and the gopīs enjoyed transcendental pastimes together every night for two months, and time passed away so quickly that all those nights appeared to be only one night. In the presence of Lord Balarāma, all the gopīs and inhabitants of Vṛndāvana became as cheerful as they had been before in the presence of both brothers, Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Balarāma.